University games challenge has a serious mission

University games challenge has a serious mission  name

Over 180 competitors from the University of Cumbria, Carlisle College and Gateshead College have taken part in a challenge to create and produce a working game in less than a week.

It can take around 18 months to complete a new game from scratch but for competitors taking part in ‘game jam’, an annual event run by the digital arts department at the University of Cumbria’s Institute of the Arts, the time allowed was just 76 hours.

In previous years the event has been held within the university but this year the decision was taken to open it up to external groups to allow more to take part and enable students at different levels to cooperate and learn from each other.

On Friday morning the games, including several board games produced alongside digital versions, were tested by each group and points awarded to decide the best non digital game, most inventive game and best video game.

”The level of complexity and quality was incredible – we’re already talking about arranging another event next year,” Katy Little, programme leader for games design at the University of Cumbria, said.  “Competition was fierce and when you consider the students only had three and a half days to produce a video game when normally it’s a year or 18 months to produce one, the standard was very high.”

Best video game was won by a team from Gateshead College with both non digital and most inventive awards scooped by teams from the University of Cumbria.

“We’ve all learned a lot from the project,” Luke Galloway-Smith, a member of the team which won an award for most inventive game, said. His game, called Baken, sees players challenged to overcome a range of obstacles to retrieve a pig from an evil farmer. “Working as a team and achieving a working game in a short space of time has been awesome.”

Former games design students have gone on to be part of the post productions teams involved in making movies including Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Happy Feet, Quantum of Solace and the Chronicles of Narnia.

 “The brilliant thing about games design is that the skills the students learn are transferable and as more industries are digitised they are the kinds of skills that are in demand, “Katy said.